You Were Never Really Here (2017)

You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writer: Lynne Ramsay
Based on: Jonathan Ames‘ novel of the same name
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Dante Pereira-Olson, Vinicius Damasceno, Judith Roberts, Frank Pando, John Doman, Alex Manette, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 11.5.2018

Plot:
Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a veteran with PTSD whose job it is to retrieve trafficked girls as a freelancer. His newest task is to find Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) who ran away from home. Her father (Alex Manette) is a state senator and he’s pretty sure she’s held against her will at a house he knows of. He wants as little fuss as possible, not only for his own position, but also because he works for the Governor (Alessandro Nivola). Joe takes the job but soon finds that things may be more complicated than anticipated.

You Were Never Really Here is a fantastic film that really carries a punch. There’s a lot to dissect and reflect here – and since it is such a good film, you’ll be happy to engage with it after having seen it to do just that.

The film poster showing Joaquin Phoenix with a hammer in his hand, looking down with an image of Ekaterina Samsonov floating in water superimposed over his body.
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Inherent Vice (2014)

Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Based on: Thomas Pynchon‘s novel
Cast: Joaquin PhoenixJoanna Newsom, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Eric Roberts, Serena Scott Thomas, Maya Rudolph, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Sasha Pieterse
Seen on: 18.02.2015

Plot:
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private detective who spends most of his time being high. When his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) surprisingly visits him to tell him about a plot against her current boyfriend, real estate tycoon Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), by his wife Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas) and then disappears, Doc takes up the investigation. As more people go missing and the police in the form of Christian ‘Bigfoot’ Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) gets involved as well, Doc quickly finds himself in deeper than he expected.

My relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson is difficult. With few exceptions I just don’t care for hard-boiled Detective Stories. Stoner movies are not my cup of tea. So it probably comes to no-one’s surprise that I did not like Inherent Vice, though it did surprise me how bored I was by it.

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Her (2013)

Her
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin PhoenixScarlett JohanssonAmy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Kristen Wiig, Bill HaderOlivia Wilde, Soko, Brian Cox

Plot:
Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) has been leading a rather solitary life since he separated from his girlfriend Catherine (Rooney Mara), mostly occupied with work – writing personal letters for other people. Then he gets a new AI OS for his phone. And that OS – Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) quickly becomes a huge part of his life to the point where Theodore falls in love with her.

Her is a beautiful movie with great performances though I wasn’t quite as blown away by it as I expected to be. Nevertheless it is rather wonderful.

her

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The Master (2012)

The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons, Ambyr Childers, Rami Malek, Joshua Close, Laura Dern

Plot:
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) has returned from serving in the navy in WW2, but the war has left him in pieces. Now he drifts from job to job, fueled by home-brewed alcohol. By chance he stumbles upon Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a self-made and rather successful cult leader of The Cause. Dodd, or Master as he is also called, and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) take Freddie in, hoping to cure him and Freddie falls head first into The Cause.

The Master is an intriguing piece of cinema. It’s unusual in the way it tells its story and perfectly acted, even if it does run a tad too long. But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

The-Master

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Two Lovers (2008)

Two Lovers is the latest film by James Gray, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw and Isabella Rossellini.

Plot:
Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) just returned to his parents’ place after being hospitalised for a suicide attempt. His life is a mess, he is not done yet with the suicide option, he works at his parents’ drycleaning business and he just doesn’t really know what to do. His parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov) try to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the sweet, good Jewish girl who knows of Leonard’s problems and wants to take care of him. At the same time, Leonard meets his new neighbor Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Michelle is unstable and completely fascinating to Leonard, who falls in love with her.

Two Lovers is an excellent character study – as long as you don’t try to see the ending as happy [though I’m pretty sure that some people will and will be content with that]. It’s wonderfully told and just cemented my respect for James Gray as a filmmaker [whose Little Odessa I absolutely adore].

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I’m Still Here (2010)

[Viennale.]

I’m Still Here is the mockumentary by Casey Affleck about Joaquin Phoenix‘ decision to become a rapper.

Plot:
in 2008, Joaquin Phoenix announces that he’s going to retire from acting to pursue his music career. His brother-in-law decides to document that transition. The film covers Phoenix’ tries to get P. Diddy to produce his albums, his continuous downfall and his desperate attempts to be taken seriously.

In the knowledge of the film being a hoax, I expected it to be pretty funny. But it was a painful movie (and not in a good way) that lasted too long. Phoenix performance is nothing short of amazing but the rest of the film is not worth it.

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Self-obsession

One of my favourite quotes is from Joaquin Phoenix. He said, “My significant other right now is myself, which is what happens when you suffer from multiple personality disorder and self-obsession.”
I don’t think that I suffer from either, but it’s times like these when I doubt this belief :). I just set up my Nohari Window and rediscovered my Johari Window, which I set up about 3 years ago, I think. (Thanks, L, for giving me the subtle reminder :).) Feel free to visit both of them and let me know (again).

And then of course, there’s my obsession with questionnaires. This one taken, again, from L.

Favourite colour: red, orange, grey
Hobbies: reading, cinema, movies, music, my computer, writing, dancing.
The most important thing: Family, friends and my books. (oh, if there ever was a fire, I think I’d like to burn with my books… damn the gas heating system. Sometimes I’m convinced I’d rather freeze. Then it gets cold again.)
Favourite Food: Sushi. Pizza. My family’s vegetable soup.
Things I currently think about: Mostly my future. Stuff like: How long will I keep my job? I like it but it’s got nothing to do with my studies and I’ll need the work experience for uni. Or when will I have the time to finish my novel (it has got about 10 pages right now)? What will I do when I finish uni? How will I go about becoming the trainer I want to be, with my own company?
Travels you want to do: Is that a trick question? I guess “anything” doesn’t count. Well (countries in no particular order), I want to see Ireland and Iceland and the -stan countries (Uzbekistan, Kazachstan and so on). I want to take a tour through the desert Gobi and the Sahara. I want to see Cambodia and the Easter Islands. And there are people I have to visit in Romania, Canada and Jamaica. And I want to take a major tour through the US, see New York, overcome my slot-machine phobia in Las Vegas and become famous in LA ;). I could go on for hours and hours like this. I guess you get the idea…